TENAHA — Heading into the halftime break of their Class 2A Region III Bi-District matchup with Beckville with only a three-point lead, the No. 21-ranked Cushing Bearkats awoke from the funk they had been in since having to sit at home without power and practice all week. After catching their collective breath, CHS then exploded past the Beckville Bearcats Saturday afternoon, 75-56, in Tenaha’s Special Events Center.
The win helps the Cushing in a number of ways. Not only do the Bearkats get to shake the rust off of having been away from the court for nearly a week, but now CHS will not have to play three games in a span of six days, like many schools in the state will, to complete the first, second and third rounds of the State basketball playoffs by Saturday.
Because most boys teams across the state were unable to get their bi-district contests in at the end of the week, they will have to complete the bi-district, area and regional quarterfinal rounds by Feb. 27. But the Bearkats will now only have to complete two rounds this week.
The ‘Kats already knows who they will meet in the Class 2A Region III Area round because Timpson defeated West Sabine, 79-64, on Saturday in Cushing. That means the Bears, who made the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons will meet Cushing in the first part of the week to see which team will remain alive. The date, site and time of the game has yet to be determined.
Two aspects of Cushing’s game became huge factors on Saturday and they were noticeable in the third quarter. Leading 33-30 at the break, the Bearkats only turned the ball over one time in each of the final two periods, with those turnovers coming in the last two minutes of each period. Meanwhile, Cushing was not only forcing nine second-half Beckville turnovers, but the ‘Kats outscored Beckville 12-2 in the paint and 8-2 in transition points in the third quarter when they held a 28-10 scoring advantage and began pulling away.
“I knew there was a good chance we’d come out flat and I think being out of school and away from practice actually benefitted (the Bearcats) more than it did us because of the style they play versus ours,” said Cushing head coach Marlon Garrett. “When we went in at halftime, I told the guys that I wasn’t mad, and that the biggest thing we were struggling with was that we had to stop letting the ball go through our hands and give them some easy putbacks, which was an 8-10-point difference in the first half.”
Garrett said he had confidence his squad would shake the rust and kick on the after-burners and play its style. Cushing outscored Beckville 42-26 in the final two quarters to put the game away. In addition, the ‘Kats outrebounded the taller Beckville squad 15-12 on the offensive glass before the game was over.
“I think (my players) got the message pretty well because when we came out in the second half everything that touched our hands, we seemed to convert it and you could see our defensive tempo turn up,” Garrett added. “We didn’t make many changes, we just played our game better. The biggest thing was the kids gave a hell of an effort in the second half compared to the first half. We took great care of the ball and didn’t turn it over in the third and fourth quarters.”
Cushing’s senior post Joseph Humphries stepped up his game in the second and third quarters, dropping in 17 of his 19 points in those 16 minutes. He scored eight points in the second and nine in the third to help CHS take control.
Senior Deuce Garrett led all scorers in the game with 21 points, spreading his scoring out over four quarters. Senior Asa Dawson threw in 11 points, all of which came in the second half. Junior Logan Womack reached double figures with 10 points.
Keyshawn Rollison scored four points for CHS, with senior Will Hobgood, J.T. Garrett and senior Dasmon Jones each cashing in three points. Ty Baker scored two.
Ryan Harris led Beckville with 18 points in the game, with Matt Barr dropping in 11, J’Koby Williams scoring eight and Jayden Mojica pitching in seven points.
Cushing controlled the tempo throughout the second half, outscoring the Bearcats 10-4 in transition points in the second half and 16-10 in the game. The ‘Kats also held a decisive 48-30 advantage of points in the paint for the contest, including 12-2 in the third quarter.
The Bearkats only turned the ball over 10 times for the game, compared to 18 for Beckville.